Behind the scenes of ‘Middletown’

Tech crew makes fall show possible


Ashley Acuna

While the actors in the production theatre class rehearse onstage, senior Gracen Farmer controls the light board.

Aidenne Despres, Staff Writer

In the shadows of the auditorium are the people who work the hardest. The unseen heroes that bring light and life to the actors onstage. 

Technical director* James Black was hired this year to be in charge of the crew*. He and his student techies build set pieces in the shop*, control lights in the booth*, and create sound effects for all productions.

“I love working with kids, watching students like Stephen, Erin, Alice, Gracen, and all my techies, work towards something,” Black said. “They troubleshoot things, so it’s really exciting to work with young people that can figure stuff out and show me ways to figure things out. Their work, not mine.”

A lot of labor and stress goes into the technical side of a production that is not seen by the audience. Senior Gracen Farmer, who spends a good deal of time in the shop, is also in charge of life.

“(For ‘Middletown,’) we’ve built the two houses, and the interior of the houses, then the hospital beds. Then a couple of wagons*,” Farmer said.“We only have a certain amount of time that we have to build everything and it has to be done before the production.”

Another techie, senior Stephen Barkalow, helps with set construction and is mainly in charge of sound. Playing music and timing sound effects might seem like an easy job, but it takes a lot of practice, especially right before a performance.

“The week before shows, we call it ‘hell week.’” Barkalow said. “I’m not out [of the shop] a lot. And even though Gracen’s up [in the light booth], she’s not actively doing stuff unless we’re doing run-throughs*. So normally what it comes down to is the week before shows and then that Saturday rehearsal before. Me and her sitting in the booth, or her sitting up there and me sitting backstage, and the grueling work of just making sure everything’s down to the t.”

Stage management is another crucial component to technical theatre that not many people know about. Senior Hunter Pittman is tasked with this job for this year’s fall show, ‘Middletown.’

“Technical theatre is one of the more important aspects, and it usually gets overshadowed.” Pittman said. “My job as stage manager is to keep track of everyone backstage, make sure everyone’s ready for their next scene, and transitions* and cues*. And making sure that the light booth knows what’s going on backstage and what’s going on onstage.”

Even though tech usually goes unnoticed, their contributions to a play are just as important as the actors’. From set construction to stage management, they operate as a team.

“It’s all about people working together,” Black said. “I could not do it if it weren’t for my crew, the director couldn’t do it if it weren’t for his actors, the actors couldn’t do it if it weren’t for the techies. It’s all just a big interconnected thing. It’s the way life works.”



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